The results of the Yukon government’s school survey have found that students needed more teacher support, communication and access to technology services last spring.
The survey took place July 15-22. It asked students, parents and teachers to gauge the success of remote learning during the schools’ shutdown from April to June.
It garnered feedback from 231 students, 208 school staff and 1,944 parents.
Students who filled out the survey said they needed more regular check-ins with their teacher and more clearly outlined expectations.
Students said they could have benefited from more video lessons and a reduced number of different online program options.
Twenty-nine per cent of students said they struggled with video lessons because their internet was too slow at home.
Fifty-three per cent said they have their own computer for completing school work.
When asked how prepared they felt for the upcoming school year, 44 per cent of students said they felt either somewhat unprepared or very unprepared.
Thirty-one per cent of students said they felt prepared, and 26 per cent said they felt neutral.
When asked what they missed most about learning at school during the shutdown, 84 per cent of students said they missed their friends, while 68 per cent said they missed getting help from teachers in-person.
Sixty-three per cent of students said they experienced emotional problems, such as isolation or boredom, during the shutdown.
Fifty-seven per cent said they struggled with academics and 43 per cent said they were less physically active than usual.
Parents who filled out the survey identified the need for further communication, teacher support and more planning.
Many parents requested one-on-one and individualized support from teachers.
Both parents and students requested a more consistent platform for remote learning.
The survey identified that students were using a wide variety of platforms, including Moodle, MyNelson, Freshgrade, Google classroom, Zoom, YouTube, and the school library website.
The 208 teachers and school staff who filled out the survey requested further communication, more planning, regular communication and increased professional development.
They also requested more regularly and timely support from central administration staff and a centralized location to access information and updates.
Eighty-six per cent of respondents said they received information directly from school principals last year.
Eighty-nine per cent of school staff said the shutdown may have negatively affected students who were already struggling.
Eighty-two per cent said the lack of in-person instruction may have negatively affected students’ progress and achievement.
Eighty-six per cent said the shutdown likely affected students’ social and emotional well-being.
Seventy-three per cent said students will need support to catch up on learning that was not completed last year.
Almost half of school staff said they feel unprepared to continue students’ learning this fall compared to previous years before COVID-19.
Forty per cent said they feel confident in their preparedness to teach using a combination of virtual and in-person learning.
The survey results will be shared with school councils, Yukon First Nations, the Yukon Teachers’ Association and central administration staff. There will be follow-up surveys in the 2020-21 school year.
The Yukon NDP is calling on the Education department to revise the 2020-21 school plan based on the survey results.
“The challenges from the last school year are clear: educators, parents, and students faced a lack of support while struggling with worsening mental wellbeing, increased stress, difficult learning models and feelings of isolation,” the party stated in a press release issued Monday.
“This is an opportunity for decision-makers to listen and make the right decisions before the school year begins.”
NDP Leader Kate White is advocating for an increase to the Education budget.
“From sanitation, to internet fees, to mental health supports, families and educators’ needs will be greater during a pandemic than a regular school year,” White said.
“Everyone understands this except the Yukon government.
“It’s time to invest in our kids by increasing school budgets and supports for families.”